Tuesday, 13 December 2016


I have been wondering why I'm struggling to reflect on 2016. Unexpectedly, Yong Zhao came to mind. He mentions how we tend to focus more on what the student hasn't achieved, met, accomplished, or is still developing. We should build upon their identified strengths. I am questioning why I focus more on what I didn't achieve or accomplish or why I don't feel content or satisfied....The deficit model of professional learning.

If you asked your students to label their strengths, could they? Are they comfortable identifying their strengths? With 2017 on the horizon, I'm sure many are thinking of goals based on challenges or identified 'areas for improvement' but have you ever had a goal based on your strengths? Education typically focuses on identifying shortcomings and challenges and what is needed to improve (NAPLAN, PISA). I suggest we often forget to balance working on areas for improvement with strengths. These are my self-identified strengths.
  1. Present - Being truly present when interacting with someone.
  2. Generous - If you ask me to do something, I majority of time, I deliver. 
  3. Passionate - I'm passionate about education. I have even apologised for that in the past.

Let's celebrate being in education and identify your strengths. Name 3 of your strengths.

Be positive and proud! 

 Please use the hashtag #3strengths

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Disneyland, Differentiation & Self-Determined Learning

Have you ever been to ‘The Most Magical Place on Earth’? I remember arriving at opening time and being one of the last to leave Mickey’s Magical Kingdom. I experienced a new level of excitement and enthusiasm for exploring. But I know what may be exciting and engaging for one, may not be felt by others.

So why am I remembering the excitement level of Disneyland? I have been fortunate to work with a teacher who candidly shares her level excitement about teaching regularly. She proudly says, "I just love my job!" It is not only her words that display her excitement but also her actions and reactions to her students and their learning. Her passion is evident. Hattie (2012) maintains that teachers’ beliefs and commitments are the greatest influence on student achievement over which we can have some control. According to Steele (2009), passion relates to the level of enthusiasm that the teacher shows, the extent of commitment to each student, to learning, and to teaching itself. When teachers talk about student learning, their passion is evident and as a coach, I'm fortunate to be privy to this passion. According to Hargreaves and Fullan, (2012) the level of enthusiasm and passion largely depends on the school community in which that teacher operates. Coaches dedicate themselves to the cascading effect of enhancing others, which results in the progression of student learning (Costa, Garmston, Hayes & Elison, 2016, p. 5).

It would be unrealistic to expect all students to be passionate and excited about everything they are learning, but the long-term goal is for them to be excited, engaged, and vocal about their learning. Simply put, we want them to love learning! Students are located at different points on the learning continuum regardless of the subject. So teachers differentiate accordingly. We all have our strengths and challenges and it’s important for us as educators to recognise and accommodate through differentiation. So how well do we differentiate teacher learning?

We know differentiation is essential in the classroom and it is also essential in the staffroom. Teachers' professional learning needs to be personalised and self-determined. Wiliam (2016, p. 3) states that the major contribution for improving teacher quality must come from improving the quality of teachers already working in our schools. We use the viewpoint that 'one size does not fit all' for our students and this is applicable to our teachers too. Substantial evidence indicates that the typical kinds of professional development being provided to teachers are known to be ineffective (Darling-Hammond, Wei, Andree, Richardson & Orphanos, 2009). Coaching values self-directed learning and what is vital in this professional learning approach is self-reflection and goal setting. We encourage students to hold ownership of their learning, by promoting metacognition (thinking about thinking), reflection and goal setting. These skills are also applicable to teachers.

To sustain their passion and excitement for learning and teaching, it is vital to respect teachers as professionals and provide ownership of their learning. According to Hattie (2012), school leaders and teachers need to create schools, staffrooms and classrooms environments where errors are welcomed as a learning opportunity. Additionally, teachers should feel safe to learn, re-learn and explore knowledge and understanding. As a coach, my goal is to sustain that passion for teaching, by supporting and promoting self-directed learners and leaders with the disposition for continuous, lifelong learning.


Costa, A., Garmston, R., Hayes, C., & Ellison, H. (2015). Cognitive coaching. Victoria: Hawker Brownlow

Darling-Hammond, L., Wei, R., Andree, A., Richardson, N., & Orphanos, S. (2009). Professional Learning in the Learning Profession: A Status Report on Teacher Development in the United States and Abroad. National Staff Development Council. Retrieved from http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED536383

Hargreaves, A., & Fullan, M. (2012). Professional capital. New York: Teachers College Press.

Hattie, J. (2012). Visible learning for teachers. London: Routledge.

Steele, C. (2009). The inspired teacher. Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Wiliam, D. (2016). Leadership [for] teacher learning. Victoria: Hawker Brownlow

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Women Role Models

I grew up in an era when some mums worked part time while their children were at school. They were always there when you left and there upon your return. And somewhere in between they managed to cook, iron, clean, sew, shop and the list goes on. Times were changing as women were permitted to work but also expected to keep house & raise a family too.

Yet there were those who believed that women should be at home during the day to make sure everything was 'just right' when the husband returned home from work. I remember hearing someone say that women don't know how to look after their husbands anymore.

Years ago, I met with a male leader in an education system to inquire about a PhD scholarship. He responded by saying, "But you have 3 children and a husband, don't you think you should just do a masters?" Clearly, he hadn't taken the time to read my CV and I wondered if a male would have received the same response.

October is Women’s History Month in Canada where they recognise the contributions of women. On social media they are using the hashtag #BecauseOfHer to show how extraordinary women, both past and present have great influence. 

When I listen to Michelle Obama, this week and Malala and Women Leaders in previous times, I am confident that gender equity is progressing. Do you have role models or mentors in your life? Role models don't have to be famous; they don't necessarily need a platform, but their voices need to be heard. We are moving forward but is it fast enough and are we ALL contributing? 

I do believe my daughters have a more equitable future because women are projecting their voices, challenging the norm, and slowly being heard.

Please feel free to list your role models or mentors in the comments box.